R. Kelly was set to headline the first ever Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio over Labor Day weekend, but he'll soon be making other plans. After weeks of backlash regarding Kelly's history of sexual abuse, the festival has announced that it removed the R&B singer from its lineup.
Kelly's spot atop the bill had been criticized harshly by members of the city's local music scene. Two Columbus bands—Saintseneca and Damn the Witch Siren—who were scheduled to play Fashion Meets Music had announced in recent weeks that they were withdrawing from the festival over Kelly's involvement, which led to local radio station WCBE pulling its sponsorship of the event.
A spokesperson for the festival said in a statement that the community's response was what led to Fashion Meets Music severing its ties with Kelly, while also noting that it had hired a PR firm to help clean up the mess. Via the Columbus Dispatch:
"We wanted to make sure we heard the Columbus listeners ... to make a statement and support the city we live in," said festival spokeswoman Melissa Dickson, who added that a public-relations firm is helping the event repair its image.
It is easy, on the one hand, to say that Fashion Meets Music should've seen this outcome in the distance from the moment it booked Kelly. But this is perhaps the first tangible negative consequence to stem from the sexual abuse allegations that have followed Kelly for nearly a decade, or at least since his history was reexamined by writer Jessica Hopper on the Village Voice's website last year.
In his own statement, Kelly's publicist avoided addressing the core issue of his removal directly, which is very much in concert with how the man himself has dealt with renewed questions about his past.
"R. Kelly is sorry to disappoint his fans but looks forward to seeing them in the near future during one of his upcoming tours."
[image via Getty]